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Third-cycle (PhD) programmes


7.Higher education

7.5Third-cycle (PhD) programmes

Last update: 6 February 2024


Organisation of doctoral studies

As stipulated by the Higher Education Act, the doctoral degree programmes (ISCED 844) are aimed at scientific research and independent creative activities in the area of research or development, or at independent theoretical and creative activities in the area of fine arts.

The standard length of study is at least three and at most four years. The average duration of doctoral studies is longer; it varies on average between five to six years. Higher education institutions (vysoké školy) set the maximal study length in their internal regulations.

The credit system in doctoral programmes is not being implemented everywhere. The situation is different even within faculties of one higher education institution.

The creation and provision of study programmes is one of the recognised academic rights and freedoms of the higher education institutions. A study programme is subject to accreditation which is awarded by the National Accreditation Bureau for Higher Education (Accreditation Bureau) or is approved in an internal process by the higher education institution itself – this is the case when the higher education institution obtains an institutional accreditation for the particular educational area/areas. Study programmes approved by the higher education institution are considered as accredited according to the Higher Education Act. Newly, they are not broken down into study fields.

Studies in the doctoral degree programme proceed according to an individual study plan under the guidance of a supervisor.

At some faculties, students in doctoral programmes are obliged to teach a certain number of hours. Scope of the obligation is determined by the higher education institution.

Many doctoral programmes at higher education institutions are carried out in cooperation with the institutes of the Czech Academy of Sciences following the traditional scientific training in these institutions.

Doctoral degree programmes cannot be offered by non-university higher education institutions.


Admission requirements

According to the Higher Education Act, for admission to a doctoral degree programme, an applicant must have completed the Master's degree programme (ISCED 747 or 746) and in the field of art, he/she must be awarded also an academic title. The conditions must be published at least four months in advance.

An institution can set a maximum number of students to be admitted. In general, admission to studies at higher education institutions (vysoké školy) is limited primarily by the capacity of each institution. This number of students which will be funded in the academic year is limited at the central level by the amount of money allocated to the school through formula funding. A particular higher education institution decides on the number of students in individual programmes and forms of study. For the academic year 2022/23, 15 % of graduates of Master's degree programmes were admitted to the doctoral study programmes. (Source: Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports)

The higher education institution can collect fees for acts related to the admission procedure.

Status of doctoral students/candidates

Students in doctoral degree programmes have a status of students. Students' benefits, however, can be taken advantage of only up to 26 years, the tax abatement up to 28 years of age. A department (thus a higher education institution) may employ the student. Students are often involved in research projects if these are carried out in the particular programme at a higher education institution (vysoká škola).

According to the Higher Education Act, the students of doctoral studies have the same rights for scholarships as students of Bachelor's and Master's programmes. They also receive a special doctoral scholarship. This scholarship is paid only to students in an on-site study of the standard length (i.e. the period for which programmes are accredited – 3 or 4 years). As the actual length of study is longer, most students of doctoral studies proceed after a standard period of study to the combined form of study. Therefore, most higher education institutions offer on-site and distance or combined form of study. Student's status does not change. If students exceed the standard study length, they do not pay any fees. Higher education institutions set the maximum length of study, after which the student is excluded from the study (e.g. at Charles University, it is 8 years).

Supervision arrangements

According to the Higher Education Act, the studies within doctoral study programmes proceed according to individual curricula under the guidance of a supervisor. Conditions that students have to fulfil during their study and on its regular completion are set in the individual study plan; they are further determined by the content and the extent of the state doctoral examination and requirements for prescribed knowledge.

Studies within doctoral study programmes are monitored and evaluated by a doctoral studies board appointed in compliance with internal regulations of a higher education institution (vysoké školy) or one of its constituent parts that offers the accredited study programme in question. Higher education institutions or their constituent parts may agree on creating a common board for study programmes in the same area of studies. The chair of the doctoral studies board is the guarantor of the doctoral study programme by voting from among its members.



Higher education institutions (vysoké školy) are highly autonomous in setting the content of their courses. The Government is not allowed to oblige HEIs to include certain forms of education in their programmes. For more information on these issues, on involving employers in the governing bodies of HEIs, career guidance and other general principles see Employability in Bachelor´s programmes and Career Guidance in Chapter 12.

Unemployment rate of doctoral study graduates, 2010–2022 (data collection in April of the given year)

  2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
0–6 months 3.2 3.3 2.9 2.8 5.0 3.5 2.8 2.0 1.9 0.8 1.8 2.5 1.4
0–12 months 2.6 2.8 2.5 3.9 4.3 2.7 1.8 1.6 1.2 0.7 1.0 1.6 1.1
12–24 months 0.5 0.9 0.5 1.1 1.0 0.7 0.6 0.4 0.2 0.4 0.1 0.4 0.2

Source: Database of the SVP PedF UK – Data extracted as of 28 August 2023

The Table includes, in contrast to data on unemployment of Bachelor's and Master's studies graduates, also data of the first six months after graduation. These data monitor the situation of doctoral graduates in the labour market better, immediately after graduation and also allows (data collection is from April) to include a higher number of doctoral graduates in relation to the average time of study (5.5 years).



ECTS credits are usually not widely used in doctoral programmes.

Requirements that a student of the doctoral study must fulfil are determined by a higher education institution in the form of an individual study plan. For a given course, the higher education institution sets the number of compulsory and compulsorily optional courses which the students must attend. Fulfilment of an individual study plan is subject to regular, usually annual, assessment approved by the doctoral studies board.

Students are expected to focus on scientific research and independent creative activity. It must be clear from the theme of the doctoral thesis that their solution will require student's independent creative activity in research and development, or independent creative activity in art. The doctoral thesis must contain the original and published results or the results accepted for publication.



As stipulated by the Higher Education Act, the study of a doctoral programme finishes with a state doctoral examination and the defence of a thesis, the latter is open to public.

A higher education diploma (vysokoškolský diplom) and a supplement to the diploma (dodatek k diplomu) are documents confirming completion of studies and the right to use the appropriate academic title. Graduates of doctoral programmes are awarded the academic title “Doctor” – Ph.D. (before 1 September 2016 also “Doctor of Theology” Th.D.). The level of education attained is ISCED 844.


An overview of higher education degrees in doctoral study programmes

Programmes Title Abbreviation
most programmes doktor (Doctor)  Ph.D.

Note: Academic title is used behind the name.


Organisational variation

A study programme can have the form of:

  • an on-site (daily) course
  • a distance (e.g. e-learning) course (currently not organised at any HEI)
  • a combination of both (so called combined form of study)

The Higher Education Act considers all three study form to be equal in as regards the content. Currently higher education institutions offer all doctoral study programmes in an on-site and a combined form of study (i.e. a combination of on-site and a distance form of study).